tv Newsmakers CSPAN September 5, 2010 6:00pm-6:30pm EDT
way to go is for medicare-for- all, single-payer system. if vermont leads the country, you're absolutely right that we will be deluged with all the lobbyists big money can buy. we are 30 -- 630,000 people. if we can share -- show that that system works, then everybody else is behind. . >> follow the people and events that make history online at the c-span video library. the transfer of the canal, the impeachment of a present, the event of 9/11. watch what happened as it happened. it is washington your way. >> we want to welcome admiral pap.
we have to reporters today, gary .hields and chris tavis: >> with the recent fires in the gulf on the platform, we have had the second one in five months. what is the coast guard's role on the operation out there? >> first of all, it is to respond to search and rescue cases. in fact, if you correlate between the deepwater horizon response and the response to the vermilion 380 yesterday, they both had search and rescue cases. we get an alert that there is some sort of case going on and we flew as many forces as we can to get out there and save as many lives as we can. we were very fortunate yesterday. it remained a search and rescue case. 13 people were rescued safely.
it was a case closed for the most part. >> we all are talking on friday, the incident that you are referring to happen on thursday. >> in terms of the inspection, do you play role in the inspections of the platform? >> we do in terms of the inspections of the mobile drilling units. those are ships that maintained stations through dynamic positioning. we inspect plans, stability, firefighting procedures, all for the crew on board. if it is a platform, something attached to the bottom of the sea, like the case yesterday, the platform of those inspections belong to the department of the interior. >> how frequent are the inspections on some of these floating vessels? >> some of them more annually. then there are refreshers. people have a good track record and we go do reviews on them. >> on the committee hearings,
the commission hearings, they were surprised that the response of the plans, the coast guard was not involved in terms of the cleanup once the incident happens. the mineral management service gets a report, companies say how they will respond. but the coast guard was not in on those reports as far as with the companies have to do once they discharge. >> we review plans as they go forward. the minerals management service, yes, they review plans for the drilling operations. we normally look at facilities and port facilities and ship plants for what they have in case there is a spill. the exxon valdez was a ship ran aground on a rock, a finite amount of oil.
we reviewed and approved plans for how those ships or a facility by the water maintain equipment, store equipment, and responding case of such a scenario. >> -- and respond in case of .uch a rich scenariscenario >> there are other assets down there. there is the louisiana offshore oil platform. there is a refinery and storage system that is set up. are you confident now, particularly after the experience you just came through, that you have the resources and the organization and structure, both from the coast guard and the government and industry assets to deal with and it will spell or greater if it comes along? >> absolutely. we will take a look at this spill and how the equipment
performed. i am being flooded by people with proposals for different types of technology that might respond to something like this in the future. we responded in an unprecedented way. we followed all types of coast guard forces down there, from people to some of our very person told ships. -- a very cumbersome style ships. -- to some of our versatile ships. >> what things have you discovered? >> the commission is taking a look at it. we have the marine casualty investigation going on. it is premature to say that anything is a weakness. we are pleased overall in the way we responded and we will take a deliberate approach looking at the entire case and come up with some recommendations. >> could you give us a couple of
areas that you see -- you are watching all this unfold -- that you think needs to change? >> first of all, having an uncontrolled spill at 5,000 feet below water was something that was new to us. most of our plans were developed for dealing with finite spills. you have a ship with a certain capacity. if it strikes a rock, there is a maximum amount of oil that will be discharged from that ship or a shore facility. you can supply the proper amount of equipment for that. we had something that was happening day after day. it was groundhog day force. everything seemed to be the same, except for when the weather and the kurds were different each day, pushing the oil in different directions. we had to be reactive to that. i think we learned a lot from that. it is difficult for a lot of
people who are not familiar with the maritime environment where things are dynamic. they change from day to day. you have to have adaptable forces. that is one of the views about the fold -- the postcard. -- that is one of the duties about the coast guard. >> do you have to identify an area where you would like to make some changes or improvements? >> snow. we have people -- >> no. we're looking at it. >> you have resources from all over that came to deal with this. there was also the major disaster in haiti. the coast guard was involved in it for a long time. then you have this unplanned continues situation in the gulf.
this may have put a strain on your resources. how has the coast guard learned to deal with this? >> i am very grateful for the resources we have. the country has invested heavily in the coast guard since september 11, 2001. we have up to 40 two thousand people. the people alone give us a greater capacity -- we have about 42,000 people. the people alone give us a greater capacity to do these things. in the case of haiti, we had ships that were already deployed down there, either on counter- drug mission or alien migration missions. it was easy for us to flip the switch overnight and deploy them to force parents -- to port-au- prince harbor. i do not think we will ever have enough resources to do every
mission 100%. that is where our job comes in, based on our experience, throughout our career, we used our party's -- we use our sense of priority on any given day. >> in terms of homeland security, what do you see as your role in that arena? >> we are very confident. we have 11 statutory missionaries. people tried to count little assignments that we pick up here and there. but, broadly stated, our 11 missionaries have not changed that much. since 9/11, we have placed great more emphasis on the security of our ports and offshore. we have added capacity in terms of our maritime safety and security teams. we have worked very hard to make sure that our ports and waterways are secure as they
provide a vital lifeline for this country. 90% of our trade comes through those ports. they are very important to us. and they are vulnerable as well. we are trying to minimize that vulnerability. marine safety is another field where we focus ourselves. rightly so, the congressional oversight committee has identified the fact that the marine industry felt shortchanged because of the focus on security. we have redoubled their efforts to work with industry partners, had listening sessions, a marine safety improvement program devoted to offering resources, too. we have shown improvements there. we are supported by the administration and the congress. we are in pretty good shape. >> you have commanded your share of cutters in your day. there is a concern about the aging fleet. cutter's average 40 years. what are we going to do to
replace them? where would the money come from? >> that is another place where we have shown a big success recently. we have replaced the major portion of our patrol boats that are out there. 110 foot cutters that need replacement, we started cutting steel on the new ones down in louisiana. we probably will be building about for them to six of them per year for the next few years. we have reformed our acquisition programs. we have built up our capacity. we just christened our third national security carter. it is the capital ship for fleet. we are in negotiations for no. 4. we have number -- we have money in the budget for no. 5. then we will start working our
medium-endurance cutters. they are younger. my biggest challenges to recapitalize that fleet. >> gulf coast residents wonder how long the coast guard will be in that area, dealing with the oil spill there? >> first of all, that is the eighth coast guard district. we live there. they are affected just as much as the people of louisiana are affected because we make our business on the water down there, too. we are not going to go away. we are going to remain there until everything gets cleaned up. >> what about the role you will play? >> we are going to be supervising the cleanup efforts down there. we're committed to staying down there and restoring the health and colonists of the gulf coast area and provide that supervision to make sure that is completed. >> for months? years?
>> whatever it takes. >> when a disaster strikes, whether it is natural like hurricanes or manmade with oil spills, people naturally look to the coast guard for leadership. they also tend to look for you for assets. is the structure ok now? are you ok with the leadership structure? does the coast guard need any statutory or authority changes? are things ok? >> you may be talking about something that my predecessor started, and modernization of it. that was taking him overall look at the leadership structure and moving away from a geographic- oriented support and operational structures and trying to focus within the structure of functional areas. on the mission support
engineering, logistics side, we have completed most of those changes. we are probably in the final efforts in terms of arranging our bases where we provide those services to our operational field units. one part i am concerned about is how we arrange our operational commanders in the field. the modernization that we put forward has reduced us to one operation commander. we have done away of the atlantic area command and the pacific air command and put one commander out there. i am not sure how i could keep a good focus on the pacific as well. what i started doing is reconstituting and holding on our pacific area commander and seeing how are coast authorization bill proceeds through the congress. we cannot proceed one way or the other without having the
authorization of title 14. i have been working with oversight committees. i think we have the flexibility within that to set up this construct, if and when the operation -- the authorization bill is passed. as it is written right now, it calls for an atlantic area commander and a pacific area commander. >> in this new budget coming in 2011, i saw that the coast guard will get a 3% cut in its budget. how you deal with that? you have so many things to do. how do you deal with your resources and what you need? >> everybody plays with the numbers. we have showed steady progression in our budget. i think that the 2011 budget was hammered out with a great deal of difficulty and in a constrained environment. we got the things we wanted, a
continuation of building ships. it does require the decommissioning of five of our ships. but we have three of the new cutters being built and we have money coming in for building more of those. so it is a balancing act. everybody is fighting with constraining budgets right now. i am satisfied and happy that we are continuing to press for and getting the money to recapitalize. >> what plans you have not recapitalized in is the ellen their ways. deep water was the blue water fleet. you have not recapitalize been is the inland waterways. the border was the blue water fleet. you have sure infrastructures, stations that were built long before that. will anything happen in that
area? will there be an emphasis on that? are you simply having to do with -- simply having to make do with that structure? >> we will turn our attention to it. we will put some money in the budget. we refer to our black hole, working boats that are out there. a large portion of it has been replaced. going tenders area practically a new fleet. the when you are focusing on is the inland river tender fleet. granted, they are old as well. we are keeping them together with maintenance money that can be used to do marginal upgrades and improvements to them. ultimately, that fleet will have to be replaced. we are also looking at possible
new technologies for doing some of that river work. we will take one thing at a time, although we are taking three things or four things at a time. >> could you explain for viewers who do not know the lingo of what you're talking about? what regions of the country are you talking about when you talk about inter-coastal river ways? >> most people do not really realize that we have a lot of coastline and we have a lot of inland. the mississippi river system and the ohio river system, the farmer in iowa that ships corn to minnesota or shipping wheat through the great lakes to buffalo -- all of these systems are part of the economy that we were talking about. yes, we have imports coming into our ports, but we have a lot of
products on the interior of the country that use the rivers and lakes to get the exports out. we maintain 50,000 aged navigation, and our inland rivers, and a fleet of ships to maintain them. search and rescue, marine safety, we inspect the ships that use those waters to make sure they can operate safely. requalify licenses to mariners who sail them. we employ -- one of the questions was do we need new authorities? i do not think so. we have authorities that allow us to accomplish our mission. >> we have five minutes left. >> some people understand that we have a worldwide road with the coast guard. you're doing your thing here in the country. tell us a little bit about what you have to do? >> it is almost a misnomer,
coast guard, because we are literally on the oceans of the world. we have six patrol boats in the northern arabian gulf that have provided security for the offshore oil platforms to allow iraq to get its economy going again and provide security. we have international port inspectors who go to foreign ports to make sure they are maintaining security standards in order to trade with us. do we have to push it out to ports and other countries for reasons of security and safety before it gets here? we talked about stationing small armed missiles at the entrance of the sports to provide useful sentinels of the law. you probably never imagined that
the entrances of our ports would start in hong kong or amsterdam. they go out to those areas with inspectors and ships to provide for the safety and security of our country. >> on that topic, you have two icebreakers. one is laid up and the other just missed a deployment date. they were intended to support operations in antarctica. with global warming and the increasing opening of the northwest passage, the arctic, canada is debating refurbishing its fleet. the russians have come over and planted flags on the north pole. this is an area of future interest for all three nations. but the coast guard is not getting the resources it needs to recapitalize that icebreaker fleet. what will happen there? will we just be shut out of the arctic and have to depend on the
canadiens to get there? >> not at all. because guard cutter healy is above alaska, asserting our sovereignty, mapping out the ocean floor, and working with the canadiens up there. but you bring a great question. that is why i got back two weeks ago from a trip up there. we were conducting something called arctic crossroads, the third year of a project we are doing to exercise of their in the greater open water that we have to test our coastguard assets and our resources to see what the might -- the right mix might be of their -- might be up there. we found a cruise ship that had run aground on an uncharted rock in the canadian waters. canada did have some ships out
there on patrol. they were able to rescue all the people on board. the ship is still a ground. that is likely to happen some day in our waters north of alaska. we need to be prepared for that. we are up there working on that right now. icebreakers is my job to bring to congress. >> so you really have no near term solution on that. >> the near term solution is a policy that has fewer breakdowns. polish star is the older of the two. it is from the being reactivated. we received money from congress to reactivate that ship. she should be ready in another year or so. >> was that enough money to put that shift in operation? i saw coast guard statement saying that you need more money than what they give you. >> the operating funds, we are
dealing with the national science foundation, the congress, and the funds are there. we will have them operational and i am very optimistic about it. >> what would you say your chief goal is now coming in as the commandant? >> my key goal is to study the service, honoring our profession, strengthening partnerships. we cannot do it all on our own. and taking care of our shipmates. as an old ship captain, in terms of being on a ship and the organization, the contract, the responsibility, the authority, and the accountability of a ship captain bears with him or her. in our case, we have been through a lot of changes since september 11, 2001. we have reorganized within the coastguard -- within the
coastguard. i need to complete those changes so that we are not costly in a turned -- we are not churned, so that we can provide good service to the country. i am so proud of our coast guard people who do that on a daily basis, who put their lives at risk, who volunteer in step forward to serve their country. >> thank you so much for being on "newsmakers." .e're back with gerry shields what did you hear from the admiral about his job, his new job as the commandant of the coast guard? >> he is new on the job. he is not stepping up with a whole new direction so far,
which is typical of most people when they come on. it is sort of surprising that, after more than three months of gulf wounds, there is no particular direction or even preliminary. i think people understand that the final verdicts of this thing are near the end. but it is somewhat disappointing to see something has popped up. something of this magnitude, something has to be out there. >> in terms of recommendations going for? >> sure. we found out that this work. we were not sure that it would work. the nation spent the lot of effort in getting the oil ready to deal with this. we do not find the coast guard. the industry itself as opposed to fund the equipment to deal with these things and the coast
guard would manage them. >> do you see a change coming down the road with that equation? >> we do not know yet. we're not hearing much in the way of assessment. this is a fallout from the exxon valdez, which was a long time ago. with oil response to ask -- with oil response assets all around the coast, did that work? >> what do you think the gulf coast residents will want to hear? >> they want and lend support. they want to be protected. they want their shorelines, make sure that there is no oil out there. they want to protect the coast. the coast guard has a big job out there. but people have been doing fairly well. >> he talked about the coast guard being part of the gulf coast community down there. and that they will stay for
months or years, however long it takes. how do you think people down there would react? >> i think they would be glad about that. he talked a little bit about operations in new orleans. i think people are comforted by the fact that they are there. >> he talked about assets. he did not have any good news there. people have realized this and put more emphasis on this -- he did not say that. there is sort of an irony in that the coast guard is tied up with the pentagon drawdown. the pentagon is having a major effort to draw down defense spending. people are saying, well, the war is winding down, so let's take it all down. but the mission that the coast guard is doing is not seasonal. they do search and rescue, economic occlusions, defend and
watch our coast, keep drug dealers out, keep migrants out, keep terrorists out. there is no season to these things. you have to maintain all of navigation ofs the waterways into every harbour work. it is sort of like a police force. will you just say, well, that crime wave is over so we will cut all the police? >> it sounds like you do not think that the next round of budget talks, the next time that admiral pat has to go to capitol hill and testify before congress, that he will say that we need changes in our budget? >> you wonder where the real advocates for the coast guard are. is anybody going to stand up and say that they are getting shortchanged? >> are there members of congress that you can name that say that's where thing? >>